Second Chances

Nugget Romance #3
April 14, 2015
Kensington Publishing (Lyrical Shine)
Available in: Audio, e-Book, Trade Size

Second Chances

Nugget, California, is a spot-in-the-road that’s easy to miss. But this little mountain town knows how to give the struggling and discouraged many paths back to happiness—and love…

Reporter Harlee Roberts is used to finding the story, not living it. Unfortunately, losing her dream job and glittering city life means she needs a serious rewrite. Downtime at her parents’ cabin in Nugget is a break she could really use. But the less her rugged woodworker neighbor has to say to her, the more Harlee’s natural curiosity is piqued, and the more she wants exclusive access—to his heart…

Nugget’s open spaces and mountain quiet are the perfect refuge for Colin Burke. All he wants is solitude, to mind his own business—and for Harlee to mind hers. Still, her live-wire personality and take-no-prisoners commitment to those she cares about are a temptation pulling him way too close. Is their connection strong enough to survive his secrets—and risk a future together?

Chapter 1

Colin Burke pulled over to the shoulder, watched a car he didn’t recognize struggle to make it up the steep grade, and shook his head. What kind of moron uses a Mini Cooper to tow a twelve-hundred-pound U-Haul trailer on a narrow, rutted dirt road?

The road was definitely too tight for the both of them. So he sat waiting, observing in dismay as the driver took the hairpin turn too wide, causing the trailer to plunge over the side of the embankment, dragging half the car with it.

For a split second Colin sat paralyzed while the tail of the Mini Cooper hung suspended in midair. Then he jumped out of his truck, shouting, “Don’t get out!”

But it was too late. The motorist had already left the driver’s seat and was now crouched down at the top of the embankment assessing the damage. Colin couldn’t believe that the shift in weight hadn’t resulted in the car tumbling completely over the side. Given that the embankment was slippery from the last rain, it could still happen.

“You okay?” he asked, making his way to the car.

“Yeah. But my trailer may be stuck.”

You think? The words were just about to leave his lips, when Colin was struck dumb. The driver might be incompetent behind the wheel, but she was extremely pretty. He wasn’t used to seeing attractive women on Grizzly Peak. Hell, he wasn’t used to seeing anyone up here. That’s why he’d chosen the remote spot.

“Where were you headed with the trailer?” he asked, assuming that she had gotten lost and had been trying to turn around when she’d lurched over the side.

“My cabin.” The woman dusted some dirt off her black pants, which Colin couldn’t help noticing hugged a pair of truly awesome legs. She wore a fluffy sweater that looked expensive and a pair of leather boots—more fashionable than practical. Not exactly dressed for the back country, he noted as he quickly averted his eyes to keep from ogling her.

“Where’s that?” he asked, presuming that most likely she’d been headed for town. Surprisingly, she pointed down the driveway to an A-frame. Other than his, it was the only other house on the desolate road. For the three years that Colin had lived here, the cabin had been vacant.

“You think I should try to gun it?” she asked, turning her attention back to the Mini Cooper. “Maybe if I hit the gas hard enough I can pull the trailer back up.”

He shook his head. “Nah. That little car doesn’t have the horsepower. I think we should unhitch it and I can try to pull the trailer out with my truck.”

“Okay.” She was already scrambling down the hill, preparing to disconnect the receiver from the tow package.

“Hang on a sec. I want to think about this for a minute.” He walked back and forth alongside the car, studying its precarious position. “This is the deal: We unlatch it and run the risk of the car taking a free fall.”

“I can get back in and hit the gas the minute you unfasten the trailer,” she suggested.

It seemed like a shaky idea to him. But Colin didn’t think his truck had the juice to lug both the car and trailer out of the mud at the same time. So he supposed it was worth a shot.

“Yeah, okay.” Before she could respond, Colin got inside the Mini, gingerly adjusting the driver’s seat to give him leg room. The car had been made for Lilliputians—his head practically hit the roof.

“What are you doing?” the woman shouted up to him.

“I’ll punch it, while you unhook the trailer. I’m pretty sure my weight will hold the car. But get out of there fast . . . just in case.”

“You sure you don’t want me to do it?”

“I got it.”

He found the keys in the ignition and started the engine. Colin watched her through the rearview as she undid the safety chains and pulled up on the coupler latch with one hand while turning the handwheel counterclockwise about ten times with the other. He figured she either moved around a lot or had gotten really good instructions at the U-Haul store. When she lifted the bar, effectively releasing the trailer from the Mini Cooper, Colin pressed the pedal to the metal until he felt all four wheels find purchase on firm ground. He nosed the car forward and turned it back onto the driveway so that it faced the cabin.

When he looked back, she was still standing next to the trailer. He used the opportunity to surreptitiously check her out. She was about five-five, curvy, with pale skin, hair so dark it was almost black, and the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. An Irishman’s dream. She climbed back up the hill and waved to him.

“You did it.” Her bright smile pierced him like a bullet. Damn.

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